Anda di halaman 1dari 4



Aeronautics and Space A d m i n i s t r a t i o n ) 4 p
National Aeronautics and
Space Administration

Mission Re

STS-3—Busiest and Most Successful Test


Manipulator arm swings Plasma Diagnostics Package over side of Columbia.

At 11:05 a.m. EST, March 30, 1982, NASA astronauts nearly everything they set out to do. The third mission
Jack R. Lousma (commander) and C. Gordon Fullerton of NASA's Space Transportation System (STS) proved
(pilot) landed their Space Shuttle Orbiter Columbia on a major stride toward an operational spacecraft.
Northrup Air Strip at the White Sands Test Facility, New
Mexico. This was Columbia's third orbital test flight. Why Columbia Landed at White Sands
STS-3 lasted more than eight days, made 129 Earth Rogers Dry Lake bed in California's Mojave Desert
orbits, and covered a distance of 6.24 million kilometers (Edwards Air Force Base) is the primary landing field
(3.9 million miles). It was not only the longest but also for the shuttle orbital flight tests. STS-1 and STS-2
the busiest and most demanding of the Space Shuttle missions landed there. But heavy rains had drenched
test missions. Lousma and Fullerton accomplished the dry lake. Nobody could predict how long it would
take the Edwards runway surface to be dry enough to Preparations for Launch Nearly Perfect
support Columbia's landing.
Columbia's third mission into space began about four
The best alternate landing site—Northrup Air Strip at months after completion of its second mission—
White Sands, New Mexico—was chosen for the STS-3 substantially less than the seven months between
landing. Like Edwards, Northrup Air Strip is a hard- STS-1 and STS-2. The STS-3 launch was on the day
packed desert floor. originally scheduled, March 22, 1982—a first for the
Shuttle. It was delayed just one hour from the planned
The Northrup strip was sufficiently long and wide to 10 a.m.—to 11 a.m. EST. This slippage was
provide the margin of safety needed until the occasioned by the failure of a heater on a nitrogen gas
characteristics of Columbia's aerodynamics and its new purge line.
computer-based automatic landing system are fully
Plans called for the STS-3 landing at 2:27 p.m. EST,
Columbia Put Through Exacting Tests
March 29, 1982. But as Lousma and Fullerton were A major STS-3 goal was thermal testing of Columbia.
preparing their spacecraft for entry into the atmosphere First the tail was pointed toward the Sun for 28 hours;
on March 29, wind velocities rose sharply at White later the nose for 80 hours; and finally, the top of the
Sands. John W. Young, commander of ship with cargo bay doors open, for 28 hours. Between
STS-1—Columbia's maiden flight—piloted a jet aircraft these exposures in various flight attitudes, Lousma and
over the landing area. He measured winds much too Fullerton rolled the craft for periods of from 3 to 10
high for Columbia and observed that a severe sand hours' duration to equalize external temperatures. While
storm had cut visibility at the landing site to near zero. subjecting Columbia to thermal stresses, they opened
He radioed Mission Control: "I think we ought to knock and closed the payload bay doors. Following prolonged
this off." "We concur," Mission Control replied. exposure of the open bay doors to intense cold away
from the Sun, the doors wouldn't latch properly after
Just 39 minutes minutes before they were scheduled closing. Latching was completed normally after Sun
to fire their braking rockets to descend from orbit, exposure heated the top of the cargo bay.
Lousma and Fullerton were "waved off." Lousma landed
Columbia the next morning under clear skies and The crew started and restarted Columbia's orbital
acceptable wind conditions. maneuvering engines and operated the huge
Moving the landing site from Edwards to White mechanical arm called the Remote Manipulator System.
Sands meant that facilities for processing Columbia They developed considerable expertise in using the
after landing had to be set up at White Sands. manipulator arm to grasp an experiment called a
Equipment and technicians needed for the landing were Plasma Diagnostic Package. They moved this unit
transported from Edwards to White Sands in 38 railroad around outside and inside the payload bay and returned
cars forming two special trains. it to its stowed position.


THERMAL CONTROL (Payload Bay to Space) TO SUN

STS-3 Thermal Test Attitudes ORIGINAL PAGi iS

These maneuvers were accomplished despite a short Medical and Materials-Processing
circuit which blacked out the manipulator arm's Experiments
television wrist camera. They guided the 15-meter
(50-foot) arm using only its elbow camera. This marked One experiment flown on the STS-3 mission employed
the first time the arm had taken cargo out of the electrophoresis to separate kidney and blood cells.
spacecraft. Electrophoresis uses a small electric charge to separate
a solution containing different types of cells. On Earth,
Lousma and Fullerton also fired their attitude-control the electrophoresis process produces undesirable
rockets to roll and pitch Columbia while they used the convection currents in fluids. These currents tend to
manipulator arm. These movements caused no prevent separation of cells closely resembling one
noticeable arm tremors or loss of grip. As they berthed another. The electrophoresis experiment could lead to
the arm for the last time, Fullerton called it a "fantastic commercial processing of chemicals and
piece of machinery." Pharmaceuticals in space.
A materials-processing experiment of STS-3 involved
Space Science Mission Successful the development of uniform-sized latex spheres.
The mission's space science segment, called OSS-1, Experimenters wanted to determine whether
provided abundant data for scientists. This project was weightlessness can help produce uniform latex spheres
considered a "pathfinder" effort because many of the of 20-micron diameter, from molten latex suspended in
experiments were designed to gather information about an emulsifier. These spheres are used to measure
Columbia's interactions with the space environment—to pores in the intestines and for eye research. They may
set guidelines for future experiments. The Plasma also be used to convey drugs and isotopes for
Diagnostic Package was designed to find out how the treatment of cancerous tumors.
movement and the electrical and magnetic fields
generated by Columbia affected plasma (ionized gases) Mission's Problems Relatively Minor
and magnetic field lines in space.
STS-3 was the third of four planned orbital test flights,
Other experiments were designed to indicate how designed to eliminate as many difficulties as possible
outgassing of Orbiter attitude-control propellants and before the Shuttle goes operational. In STS-3 some
water dumps could affect measurements of celestial problems proved bothersome but most turned out to be
and terrestrial objects. of minor concern. About seven minutes after launch, a
sensor flashed a message that one of the three
Another experiment was carried to provide Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) on Columbia was
information about buildup of condensation on
overheating. The APUs swivel the rocket engines
instruments, from volatile materials expended by during the launch phase and operate the rudder and
Columbia. Tests of the dynamic, acoustic, and thermal elevens during the return through the atmosphere when
properties of Columbia's environment also were made. the Shuttle flies as an aircraft.
On this mission Columbia carried experiments to The Shuttle Orbiter can operate adequately using
monitor X-rays emitted by solar flares; to gain more only two of its three APUs during the ascent and
information about formation of lignin (the stiffening re-entry modes. They are not used in orbit. During
substance in plant stems) in the nearly gravity-free return to Earth on this mission all three units operated
environment of space; to study the relationship of plant properly.
height in space to initial soil moisture content; to gather
information about the frequency, mass, and chemistry On March 23 Lousma and Fullerton discovered that
of micrometeorites; and to find how flying insects Columbia had lost more than 35 of its 31,000
behave in a nearly gravity-free environment. heat-protection tiles. Loss of the tiles did not endanger
the spacecraft during re-entry, when temperatures
Among the insects that Lousma and Fullerton
reached more than 2,000 degrees F. The tiles became
photgraphed with a motion picture camera were detached during launch. Engineers will continue
honeybees and velvet bean caterpillar moths. This
replacement procedures designed to prevent tile
experiment was submitted by Todd E. Nelson, a separation during the fourth test mission. An inspection
student at Southland High School in Adams, Minnesota. of Columbia after it landed revealed that it had lost 36
His experiment was one of 10 national winners from full tiles and parts of 19 others.
1,500 proposed experiments submitted in the
1980-1981 NASA/National Science Teachers Adjustments Ease Crew's Problems
Association Shuttle Student Involvement Project
competition. The NASA/NSTA project was designed to Early in the mission the crew encountered space
sickness, a balky toilet, and temperature control and
stimulate the study of science and technology in the
radio static problems that interfered with sleep. A
nation's secondary schools.
thermostat difficulty kept the cabin either too warm or
To prepare for future low cost science experiments in too chilly. Whenever Columbia passed over a certain
space, a payload canister for small, self-contained area of Asia, the crew's radio headsets crackled with
experiments called "getaway specials" was checked static, waking the astronauts if they were attempting to
out. Getaway specials are experiments developed by sleep. The static has been attributed to a powerful
industry, schools, individuals, and other organizations radar station. Most troubles were corrected by the third
and are scheduled for flight on a space-available basis. day and the astronauts went about their tasks in good
health and high spirits for the remainder of the All personnel connected with the flight felt the STS-3
eight-day mission. mission performed its assigned tasks admirably,
achieving an important step toward making Shuttle
On March 26, three of the communications links operational. Lousma and Fullerton agreed in summing
between Columbia and Earth were lost due to up Columbia's third flight:
transponder malfunctions. Besides the remaining high
power communications link, a backup FM radio and Columbia "performed magnificently."—Lousma
UHF voice circuit were still available. Loss of the radio
links reduced data transmission from Columbia to the "It's an unbelievably beautiful flying
ground but did not threaten safety. machine."—Fullerton

Launch of STS-3.